For three months of treatment for colon cancer, Pat Koehler made the easy 12-mile drive from her Nyssa, Ore., fabric store to St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Fruitland.
During infusion treatments, Koehler noticed the many cancer patients arriving via the van service between St. Luke’s Fruitland and Baker City locations.
“The van would come in the dead of winter despite bad roads and fog,” she said, “and the people receiving treatment were so nice and patient.”
Inspired by their strength and good humor, she vowed to help support construction of a “respite house” to provide a “home away from home” for patients and their families who must travel for their care. Working with other fabric stores throughout the area, Koehler and her business partner Marilynn Moulton at Marilynn’s Pickets and Patchwork raised $2,552 selling quilt block fabric kits during a 10-day “Treasure Hop.”
For the Treasure Hop, quilters visited 12 stores to purchase uniquely designed and assembled kits available for $6 each. The quilt block colors were cancer themed, for example, pink for breast cancer and purple for pancreatic cancer.
Most years, funds raised during the Treasure Hop benefit Project Linus, a volunteer not-for-profit that provides blankets to children who are seriously ill, injured or in need of a warm hug at St. Luke’s and other healthcare providers and agencies.
But Koehler was not surprised that last year’s cancer-themed project won the hearts of local quilters. “We sold a lot of blocks, because who hasn’t been touched by cancer?” she said.
The St. Luke’s MSTI Respite House project is part of phase 2 of the construction of St. Luke’s Fruitland, which opened in 2014. St. Luke’s and volunteers with the Fruitland Community Council have pledged to raise $1 million to complete the project and continue toward the $2.5 million needed to move St. Luke’s MSTI and Breast Cancer Detection Center into a new facility.
As proposed, the one-story, 15,000-square-foot structure would house eight regular-size rooms and two larger rooms big enough to accommodate a family. Four full-service RV spaces would also be available for patients and families.
St. Luke’s MSTI Fruitland Director Brad Holland marvels at Koehler’s boundless energy and appreciates her heartfelt support for the project.
A diagnosis of cancer dramatically changes a person’s life and presents serious challenges to physical, mental and emotional health, said Holland. Providing treatment and care close to family, friends and support systems patients rely on is a vital part of St. Luke’s MSTI’s focus on patient-centered care.
“The Respite House will be more than just a building. It will be a gathering place for a community of people who are facing a life-changing illness,” said Holland. “We hope that the Respite House will serve as a temporary home, and give our patients and their families the strength to fight cancer and improve their outcomes.”
Holland is grateful to Koehler for her passion and commitment to the project. “Pat generated so much enthusiasm and support for the project,” he said. “Even while she was battling cancer herself, she had a vision for how to help improve the lives of other rural residents.”
To learn more about MSTI Fruitland and the respite house project, please see https://www.stlukesonline.org/blogs/st-lukes/news-and-community/2015/sep/respite-house-to-provide-comforts-closer-to-home-for-rural-care.
This year’s 10-day Shop Hop to benefit Project Linus will be April 21-30. To learn more, please see http://www.treasureshophop.blogspot.com/
Amy Stahl formerly worked in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.